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Understanding Service (not Server) Virtualization

"What's in a name?" Shakespeare's Juliet asked. Quite a lot, actually. Take it from me: the other John Waters. Another example: service virtualization. The name is so close to the most well-known and widely implemented type of virtualization -- server virtualization -- that it's gumming up the conversation about using virtualization in the pre-production portion of the software development lifecycle.

Industry analyst Theresa Lanowitz has been doing her part for a while now to clarify terms. It matters, she says, because service virtualization could have as big an impact on application development as server virtualization had on the datacenter.
"When many people hear the word 'virtualization,' the first thing that pops into their heads is serv-er virtualization, and of course, VMware," Lanowitz told me. "Which is understandable. Servervirtualization is incredible technology. It allows enterprises to make better use of their hardware and to decrease their overall energy costs. It allows them to do a lot more with underutilized resources. Serv-ice virtualization is almost the antithesis, in that it allows you to do more with resources that are in high demand."

To be clear, as Lanowitz defines it, service virtualization "allows development and test teams to statefully simulate and model the dependencies of unavailable or limited services and data that cannot be easily virtualized by conventional server or hardware virtualization means." Lanowitz stresses "stateful simulation" in her definition, she said, because some people argue that service virtualization is the same as mocking and stubbing. But service virtualization is an architected solution, while mocking and stubbing are workarounds.

"Lifecycle Virtualization" is voke's umbrella term for the use of virtualization in pre-production. The full menu of technologies for LV includes service virtualization, virtual and cloud-based labs, and network virtualization solutions. The current list of vendors providing service virtualization solutions includes CA, HP, IBM, Parasoft, and Tricentis.

Lanowitz and her voke, inc., co-founder, Lisa Donzek, take a closer look at recent developments in the service virtualization market in a new report, ("Market Snapshot Report: Service Virtualization"). The report looks at what 505 enterprise decision makers reported about their experiences with service virtualization between August 2014 and October 2014, and the results they got from their efforts. It also does an excellent job of defining terms and identifying the products and vendors involved.

This is voke's second market report on service virtualization. Their first survey was conducted in 2012 and included 198 participants. "In 2012, the market had just been legitimized," Lanowitz said. "We still had a long way to go."

What jumped out at me in this report was the change in the number of dependent elements to which the dev/test teams of the surveyed organizations required access. In 2012 participants reported needing access to 33 elements for development or testing, but had unrestricted access to only 18. In 2014, they reported needing access to 52 elements and had unrestricted access to only 23. Sixty-seven percent of the 2014 participants report unrestricted access to ten or fewer dependent elements.

"It's clear to us that if you're not using virtualization in your application life cycle, you're going to have some severe problems, whether it's meeting time-to-market demands, quality issues, or cost overruns," Lanowitz said. "Service virtualization helps you remove the constrains and wait times frequently experienced by development and test teams needing to access components, architectures, databases, mainframes, mobile platforms, and so on. Using service virtualization will lead to fewer defects, reduced software cycles, and ultimately, increased customer satisfaction."

There's a lot more in the report. It's a must read.

A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but it's not going to jack up your productivity.

Posted by John K. Waters on February 9, 2015